Leith Hill World Cup Spectator Race, 3rd May

Leith Hill map extractI don’t think I’d ever come last before this event – unfortunately I managed that feat here, mainly due to some appalling mistakes near the end of the course – after the hard, technical section was over! Oh well, despite my trauma, this is a fine area, one of the top 10 in the UK. The central part of the map, with the detail created by the old mine-workings, is absolutely superb. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had “the flow” as I was able to glide from control to control without pausing, spiking each one in turn, in the middle section. It was only when I was trying to out-race another JOKer from my club that I went hurtling in the wrong direction for 500m, becoming trapped in some thick, unpleasant forest – running from control 23, I got confused by the large path junction, headed west thinking I was heading south, and turned right, along the white section of forest (see the extract) until I hit a road, a long way north… This was a five minute error, completely fatal in a race of this kind (this was a middle distance race – unusual in the UK.)

Leith Hill race error The other error was that, having completed the tricky middle section well, I switched off mentally, came into the area for control 22, and spent another five minutes searching around 100m too far south. Making 10 minutes of errors on a middle distance race is curtains, and so I ended up 23rd out of 23 finishers (plus 2 mps) taking 71:00 to complete the 6.2km course with 270 metres of climbing. The winner completed the course in just 35:31.

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